Alliance partner's KwaZulu-Natal structures say they will ignore candidates who do not have grassroots backing.
South African Communist Party structures in KwaZulu-Natal will not campaign for ANC local government candidates in wards where the party believes the will of communities has been undermined by “cronyism and distorted list processes”.
Matthew Ndlovu, the SACP secretary of the uMgungundlovu district, said his structures had taken a decision to “not support corrupt ANC councillors” who had been made candidates against the will of “impoverished communities”. He said that at district level the SACP had also decided not to support corrupt ANC councillors.
“There are ANC councillors standing again who have corruption allegations hanging over them. Others are standing in wards while staying in other areas,” Ndlovu said. “The communities want new blood, people with clean hands.
“We will leave the matter to the community and the ANC, but we will not be campaigning for these ANC candidates. Our arms are folded.” There has been a rebellion against the nomination lists, with some ANC members, many of them also SACP members, running as independent candidates in the coming municipal elections. There have been many instances of this in the uMgungundlovu district and the Moses Mabhida region.
Makhosi Khoza, the ANC provincial spokesperson, said that about 15 wards were affected in the eThekwini region and about eight or nine in Pietermaritzburg [uMgungundlovu].” The Independent Electoral Commission was still verifying registration details and could not confirm the number of ANC members running as independents.
Disgruntled ANC members said that a litany of misdemeanours in the list process drove them to “defend the ANC by standing as independents”. Sandile Ngcobo, an independent in ward 21 in Kwadambuza in uMgungundlovu, said that at a December ANC branch meeting the community objected to incumbent councillor Mtuza Mkhize’s name being put forward because he no longer lived in the ward.
“We heard nothing from the provincial leadership until March. In the meantime, the community put my name forward,” Ngcobo said. “We lodged an objection, but heard nothing from the province—and I had called and SMSed the provincial secretary, Sihle Zikalala, several times—until the ANC called to confirm Mkhize as the ward candidate,” said Ngcobo.
Finding common ground
The resultant two factions could not find common ground during negotiations with the provincial leadership. Ngcobo’s supporters accused Mkhize of “busing in labourers and people from other wards” when voting for a ward candidate was opened up to the community. Mkhize’s supporters allegedly attacked SACP branch secretary Melusi Hlatswayo with a panga and broke his arm. He has opened a case of attempted murder.
ANC members running as independents in the Moses Mabhida region said that the imposition of candidates by the regional executive committee was part of a broader programme to consolidate its power in the branches in the build-up to regional elective conferences later this year and the provincial elective conference next year.
There have also been allegations that ANC branch officials have been “gatekeeping membership” to consolidate their power. Musa Ngcongo, standing as an independent in Camperdown near Pietermaritzburg, said that since a branch was launched in the area in April last year “only a few select people have access to membership cards or get SMSes about meetings. The councillor here wants supporters, not people who know the democratic processes of the ANC.”
Ngcongo said that in December last year assaults took place at an ANC branch meeting to select four nominees to be put before the community to decide its representatives. SACP members had fled the meeting where the incumbent councillor, Bogani Gwala, was nominated at the top of the list. He said that letters to the Moses Mabhida regional leadership and meetings with Zikalala to object to Gwala’s nomination had been fruitless.
“The provincial leadership only contacted us to hold a meeting on March 21 when they told us that Gwala’s nomination will stand. He has served as councillor for two terms but does nothing while farmworkers earn R300 here and children who finish matric but do not work on the farms are forced off them by the farmers. “We are a poor rural community but we deserve better. That’s why I decided to stand as an independent and defend the ANC,” said Ngcongo.
The cracks appearing in the ANC could affect the balance of power in local municipalities such as Richmond, where ANC members are standing as independents in four of the seven wards.
The town, ravaged by political violence in the 1980s and 1990s, has seven wards, all currently represented by the ANC, and six proportional representative councillors, three from the ANC and one each from the Democratic Alliance, Inkatha Freedom Party and the United Democratic Movement.
Reggie Ngcobo, an ANC member standing as an independent in ward one, believes the independents will take the four wards in which they are standing, which “will make things interesting”. Ngcobo said that the community had selected him to stand as a candidate and had gone through the ANC processes—“having my photo taken and going for councillor workshops”—when he received a phone call from Supa Zuma, the Moses Mabhida regional secretary, on March 24, the eve of the registration deadline, to attend a meeting in Durban.
Ngcobo said that Zuma told him “that the leadership had taken a political decision that my name was not campaignable and I was to be replaced by Andrew Ragavaloo”, the incumbent councillor in ward one, who is an ANC stalwart and a former mayor of Richmond. Ngcobo dismissed claims that he was not eligible to stand as a councillor because he had a criminal record. “I have a court clearance stating that, yes, I was charged with inciting public violence during a service delivery march in Richmond last year but those charges were withdrawn.
“I was fined for drunk driving in 2008 but that does not stop me from running for election, according to the rules.” ANC sources in Richmond said that Ragavaloo’s “political connections” and role in the violence-ravaged past had secured him another nomination.
Khoza acknowledged that there were problems with the nomination process. “These are teething problems because it is the first time the ANC has introduced this method which, philosophically, is an inclusive one involving the communities. “But only about 10% of the process has been affected and we have learned our lessons as the ANC.”